On January 21, 2016, Justin Tull (Consul and Management/Economic/Consular Officer of the US Consulate in Sapporo) arrived at Iwate Hanamaki airport to tour the area. Having heard about the ILC project when he arrived in August, Consul Tull wanted to see for himself what the area is doing to bring about this next generation particle accelerator. It would also be an opportunity to forge deeper ties to the prefecture. As luck would have it, it was Consul Tull’s first visit to Iwate. The American consulate in Sapporo oversees Americans living in Hokkaido, Aomori, Akita, Iwate, and Miyagi prefectures so it was nice to show him the second largest prefecture after Hokkaido!

Staff with Consul Tull at the airport (Credit: US Consulate in Sapporo)

Staff with Consul Tull (second from the right) at the airport (Credit: US Consulate in Sapporo)

After a drive through the countryside, Consul Tull and Iwate Prefecture ILC staff arrived at a hotel in Oshu City to meet with officials from the prefecture, Oshu City, Ichinoseki City, and the Iwate Prefecture ILC Promotion Council. Over a bento lunch, officials chatted about the ILC and what Iwate was doing to welcome the project to the area. Consul Tull was already familiar with many ILC projects (including our own The Kitakami Times), and asked: “The Kitakami mountains is a candidate site, but is it the only one?”

The scientific community is clear that they intend to build the project in the Kitakami mountains of Iwate and Miyagi, and design plans are already underway. However, the final decision to host the project lies with the national government in Japan, which is continuing to research the cost and benefits of the project before making a final decision whether to host the project. Promotion Council Vice-Chairman Satoshi Tamayama remarked that we think that decision will happen in the next few years, and of course we welcome the support of the USA in our bid for the project.

“With the ILC,” said Vice-Chairman Tamayama, “Japan can become a leader in the field of fundamental particle physics.” Managing Director Mr. Sarukawa jumped in, “This will be immense for Iwate’s relationship with the world. So many people worldwide will learn of Iwate and Tohoku, and this project will be a wonderful opportunity for the children of this area.”

Consul Tull with Vice-Chairman Tamayama

Consul Tull with Vice-Chairman Tamayama

Afterwards, Consul Tull headed over to the National Astronomy Observatory in Mizusawa, Oshu, to take a look at the ATERUI supercomputer and VLBI satellite dish that takes radio pictures of the sky. The ATERUI supercomputer is the best in the world for analyzing astronomy data, and the facility communicates all over the world with international researchers. In that sense, Oshu is already home to an international scientific facility, and has been for over a century. The observatory itself was established in 1898 for optical observation of the universe, and in that time has welcomed many researchers from abroad and within Japan.

The huge satellite dish for VLBI

The huge satellite dish for VLBI

Consul Tull happened to be a big fan of astronomy himself, and at the end of his chat had a pressing question: “Do you still think of Pluto as a planet?”

Mr. Honma laughed. “Unfortunately it’s a dwarf planet now. It’s a shame because that was the planet the Americans found!”

Following this, Consul Tull and the others headed to the Hada regional community center, right by Mizusawa-Esashi Station, the shinkansen station in Oshu City. There, the Hada Regional Promotion Council met with Consul Tull to tell him about their efforts to support the ILC. Chairman Sato spoke at length in the beginning about the area coming together to think about how to welcome foreign researchers to the area. “I think we also have a lot to learn from the United States,” said Chairman Sato. “You’re an immigrant country, so you have experience with integrating lots of different people from different cultures.”

Glancing at the room full of men in their 70s, Consul Tull did remark that it would be important to have women on these sorts of councils. However, he also said that in the quest to make the area more welcoming to international visitors, you don’t need to erase what makes this place Japanese or Iwatean or Hada-esque. Researchers may have a huge interest in Japan themselves, and are going to want to learn more about the area and make an effort to integrate themselves in the local community.

He also brought up the Japanese proverb: “郷に入れば郷に従え。(When in Rome, do as the Romans do.)” It’s quite important to have better systems in place for medical interpretation and information on government procedures, but this is also an opportunity to teach ILC researchers about Tohoku and the local culture.

In the future, the US Consulate was interested in attending the ILC Conference LCWS2016 that will be held in Morioka in December 2016. The Consulate will be following what decision the Government of Japan will take on whether to approve the ILC project. In general, Consul Tull seemed to be very interested in the project and was keen to come back to Iwate soon. Along with making a report on his visit, he will also be communicating with his colleagues and is looking forward to keeping in contact with Iwate Prefecture about the ILC.




平成28年1月21日、在札幌米国総領事館 総務・経済・領事部担当領事のジャスティン・トール氏は、岩手を訪問するため、いわて花巻空港に着きました。平成27年8月に着任したトール領事はILCの話題を耳にし、次世代の加速器・ILCの実現に向けて、地元がどのように取り組んでいるか自分の目で確かめたいとのことでした。また、在札幌米国総領事館は北海道・青森県・秋田県・宮城県・岩手県在住のアメリカ人を統括しており、岩手との交流が深まる機会にもなります。実は、領事の来県は初めてとのことで、北海道に次いで広い本県を見せる良い機会となりました。

車で田園地帯を通過した後、トール領事と岩手県のスタッフは、奥州市、一関市、岩手県ILC推進協議会の関係者に会うため、奥州市のホテルに行きました。昼食のお弁当を食べながら、関係者でILCやILCに向けての地元の取組を話しました。トール領事は、「THE KITAKAMI TIMES」を含めてILCの取組に詳しく、「北上山地はILCの建設候補地ではあるが、他にも候補地はありますか。」との質問がありました。




トール領事は天文学の大ファンであり、最後に「冥王星はまだ惑星だと思いますか?」 との質問がありました。(翻訳:アメリカ人は、冥王星が惑星から外れたことを悔しく思い、準惑星であることを認めたくないとのことです。)